Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2007:
Rebecca Sload

Radiocarbon Dating of Teotihuacán Mapping Project TE28 Material from Cave under Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán, México
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Figure 1a. Western front face of Pyramid of the Sun showing open door of cave entrance. © R. Sload.
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Research Year:  2006
Culture:  Teotihuacán
Chronology:  Terminal Pre-Classic
Location:  Teotihuacán Valley, Basin of México
Site:  Teotihuacán, Cave under Pyramid of the Sun

Table of Contents

The Cave
Research Design
The Radiocarbon Dates
Area A – South Transverse Chamber
Area C – Encompasses Blockages 11 and 12
Area B – Near Terminus of Cave
Area D – Entrance to Cave
List of Figures and Tables
Sources Cited


This report analyzes 16 radiocarbon dates obtained from charcoal samples collected in 1978 by Teotihuacán Mapping Project (TMP) Test Excavation 28 (TE28) in the cave under the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, Mexico. Questions relating to Teotihuacán use of the cave are explored–its earliest use, duration of use, dating of blockage construction and laying of the concrete floor, and whether there are any temporal differences between the front and rear sections of the cave. Studying the cave is important because its use was contemporaneous with the occurrence of political, social, and economic changes that defined the city until its fall 500–600 years later. It is likely that these changes had an ideational component that was linked to the Pyramid and cave.

Based upon the results of the 16 radiocarbon dates, I suggest the following. It seems as if the entirety of the cave as we see it today was in use by around the middle of the first century CE. This dating agrees well with the ceramics. The radiocarbon dates fall squarely in the Tzacualli phase, which is the earliest ceramic phase represented by TE28 ceramics. It seems as if the laying of the concrete floor in the entirety of the cave, as well as the construction of the blockages, occurred within a fairly compressed period of time, probably around the middle of the third century CE. This time frame is surprising, because it is solidly in the middle of the Early Tlamimilolpa phase, a ceramic phase that is sparsely represented in cave ceramics. In addition, access to the cave may have been stringently controlled. Data suggest that the cave was used by very limited numbers of people, acting extremely reverentially. It also appears as if the cave experienced a significant period of disuse prior to its being encased in concrete and blocked off. While 16 dates are too few to express these finding with a high degree of confidence, the dates are consistent and provide an important part of the comprehensive publication of the cave that is in progress.

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Radiocarbon Dating of Teotihuacán Mapping Project TE28 Material from Cave under Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán, México  (1.84 MB)

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Submitted 04/17/2007 by:
Rebecca Sload, Ph.D.

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